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Old 06-25-11, 02:30 PM   #1
StupidlyBrave 
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I need some advice from the Psycho Killers, Zombie Hunters and/or Arborists

I have a large Black Walnut that was struck by lightning about a month ago. It still seems OK right now, but it has had Woodpeckers after it for a while and has shown some signs of dubious health for the past few years.

I have signed an agreement with a local tree company to have the tree cut down for under $500 (vs $800-$1K for cut down and removal). It's too close to my house and two other neighbors to simply drop by myself.

Two buddies of mine are interested in the tree for firewood and will come help clean it up. I'm interested in procuring a gas powered chainsaw for this project, as I want some control over the timeliness of the cleanup job.

This leads me to a question for which my research is giving me wildly varying responses: Do I buy a "homeowner-grade" saw from a high-end manufacturer, or simply buy a "homeowner-grade" saw from a more common brand?

My short list is:
Entry level saws from reputable manufacturers:
Stihl MS 180 (http://www.stihlusa.com/chainsaws/MS180CB.html)
Husqvarna 240 (http://www.husqvarna.com/us/homeowne...chainsaws/240/)

Or "big box" store offerings:
Pulan Pro (http://www.lowes.com/webapp/wcs/stor...aw%20PP3516AVX)
Sears (http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...70000P?prdNo=1)

If confronted by a mob of zombies which would you pick up?
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Old 06-25-11, 02:52 PM   #2
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For the occasional use homeowner, a "big box" chainsaw is fine. I have a Pulan and it's worked great for me for the limited use I have it for.

That said, a saw is only as good as it's chain. Get a good quality chain for whatever saw you buy and replace the factory chain after the first use.
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Old 06-25-11, 03:15 PM   #3
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Why not rent one?
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Old 06-25-11, 03:26 PM   #4
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Why not rent one?
This

Or just hire someone to take it down and buck it. That is the safest route. There is no more dangerous a tool for a recreational user.
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Old 06-25-11, 03:46 PM   #5
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Why not rent one?
This

Or just hire someone to take it down and buck it. That is the safest route. There is no more dangerous a tool for a recreational user.
Yes, I considered renting one. The Stihl dealer wants $180/week. $20 bux more and I can own one, albeit a touch smaller.

I also considered renting a 50 foot boom


But, I'm going to leave the dropping of the tree to the pros (who have insurance).
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Old 06-25-11, 05:03 PM   #6
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How big is the tree?

You'll work any of the saws you listed very hard. They're all made for pruning, not logging. I'd either rent a heavier duty saw or ask around and one of your neighbors might lend you one.
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Old 06-25-11, 05:05 PM   #7
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Seems a shame to burn such a beautiful and valuable wood as Black Walnut.
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Old 06-25-11, 05:58 PM   #8
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Agreed, if it is a large black walnut research and find a local saw mill, they may be happy to take the tree down for you and haul it away. Put up an ad on Craigs List with a picture of the tree, you may get an insured professional who wants the wood.
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Old 06-25-11, 06:16 PM   #9
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How big is the tree?

You'll work any of the saws you listed very hard. They're all made for pruning, not logging. I'd either rent a heavier duty saw or ask around and one of your neighbors might lend you one.
This is a very good point. I was hoping that one of the other guys (who do a lot of winter heating with wood) would have a larger saw to do the work towards the base (which is about 20 inches in diameter). But I'm not sure what they have.

Perhaps I should be looking at a bigger saw (http://www.stihlusa.com/chainsaws/MS250.html). But which would make a better melee-style defense saw? One with more horsepower or a lighter, more maneuverable one?
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Old 06-25-11, 06:41 PM   #10
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Always go for the horsepower.

Also, I use chainsaws professionally for log homes and prefer Husky.
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Old 06-25-11, 07:30 PM   #11
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My dad used to have this one (or very similar)



He always seemed to have trouble keeping it running. The only time I can recall using it, I remember how useful those big teeth were. Most likely, the chain was dull

I wish I had kept track of this one. He later replaced it with a junky McCulloch and later still with a small electric.
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Old 06-25-11, 11:15 PM   #12
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I've used both the Stihl 180 and 250 as well as a bigger one (3xx sized), all are great saws but the 180 will not be able to comfortably cut a 20" log (I believe it only comes with a 14" bar). It can do it with some effort (multiple cuts from each side) but not recommended. The 250 is a great all around saw in my opinion.

Are you ever going to use the saw after you clear this tree? If yes, pay more and get the Stihl; If not, then borrow one or buy a cheap one (and buy a new chain for it, Rob P is right, that will make a big difference).

I was going to buy a Stihl a few years ago but realized I just don't use it enough to warrant the cost. So I borrow my friend's 180, 250 or 3xx whenever I need them. I had a neighbour's tree fall just last week in my backyard and used the 250 to cut it up quick He borrows some of my tools so it's a fair swap.

Hope this helps ...

Berardino
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Old 06-25-11, 11:22 PM   #13
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Wow, that looks very cool...and very dangerous.

The Husky I used on the jobsite was stolen, so against my better judgement, I listened to the salesman and switched to a Stihl. Man, what an incredibly frustrating saw. I had it tuned by every shop in town and it would run for a little while, then quit and wouldn't start for a long time...then it would again. As you can imagine, this did not lead to much productivity and I'm surprised it didn't sail over an embankment at some point, other than I couldn't afford a good replacement. About the only clue I got to why it wasn't reliable was another salesman telling me that only Stihl and Husqvarna offer a commercial-rated saw in the US...and mine wasn't one of them.

I was telling this story to an auto mechanic and he said he'd like to give tuning it a try since he liked the brand. Again, it worked perfectly on the bench, then let me down on the jobsite. The good news was he offered to trade me plus $100 for a Husky 455 Rancher, a very nice medium-duty saw. I jumped on it. After using it to cut up a 4' diameter pine in the neighbor's yard a year ago, it was stored wet. This year I needed it for work. It started on the second pull, old gas and all.
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Old 06-26-11, 10:06 AM   #14
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Sounds like a lemon, WB. One of tips I got as part of this research project that I think was valuable (in context of Husqvarna vs. Stihl "religious" wars), was to pick the brand where you get the better dealer support. In my case, there is a JD/Stihl dealer 3 miles from my house and a Stihl dealer less than 1 mile from work. I have no preference for either brand at this point.

The homeowner's grade stuff from the "big box" stores seem to have reviews which are either very good or very bad. I don't think a review after you've used it once is very valuable. And I don't think a review from someone who's saw won't start anymore is useful unless they can indicate that they maintained it properly.

Berardio: In terms of regular usage, I just don't know. I mean, I don't have one now and I only wish I had one one every year or so. And it would be light duty, limbs mostly - I have a large bow saw right now. I believe the next project for this saw is a canoe camping trip. Most of our group is just going to "base camp" on an island, but a few of us plan to start upstream a few days early and make log rafts out of flood debris. We'll float it down for firewood.

On our last trip, we did all this with folding hand saws:


So, you can see why I was leaning towards a smaller saw. Maybe the rental option (a MS-290 "Farm Boss") would be the best option to tackle the short-term job.
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Old 06-26-11, 11:25 AM   #15
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i bought homeowner grade from Home Depot. McCullough MacCat 16" and it is passable at best. The HD brand chains dull quickly and I am pretty sure I bent the chain guide as it no longer wants to cut straight. It does start and run, even when stored wet, but if I was going to do it again, I might invest in a better grade saw to start. Need to try a better chain or learn to sharpen. Any one have any input on what brand of chain is the best?
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Old 06-26-11, 04:28 PM   #16
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any one have any input on what brand of chain is the best?
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Old 06-26-11, 06:58 PM   #17
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Old 06-26-11, 07:16 PM   #18
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Carlton for wood.
Oregon for Zombies.
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Old 06-27-11, 03:12 PM   #19
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Agreed, if it is a large black walnut research and find a local saw mill, they may be happy to take the tree down for you and haul it away. Put up an ad on Craigs List with a picture of the tree, you may get an insured professional who wants the wood.
Good advice.

I don't know if saws have improved over the last 40 years, back when I was a teen I did quite a bit of chainsaw work around the house, cutting up pretty large trees. One thing I noticed was hte vibration would make my hhands feel numb and swollen. I adjusted quickly and after a week of so the effect was gone. But this could be a huge problem for a one time weekend project. The numbness feeling was just the kind of thing that could lead to a real disaster.
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Old 07-02-11, 03:29 PM   #20
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Update: Still no word from the tree company as to when they'll bring the tree down.

Here are the adversaries:

The Black Walnut. Note the line down the center of the trunk where the bark exploded. This exposes the phloem. MP believes she can see inside my house from the bottom limb.


The Tree-from-Heaven, which can shrug off lightning strikes, apparently. There is no short-term plan of attack yet.


The Craigslist acquisition ($40).


An annotated aerial view of the conflict. The Ash is currently healthy and will stay.
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Old 07-03-11, 10:02 PM   #21
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Must have more power:
http://www.streetfire.net/video/v8-c...zing_17174.htm

FWIW: I ran into the announcer (Parker Johnstone) at a company event a couple months ago. Apparently he's a bike rider, too- time trials specifically.
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Old 07-04-11, 08:51 AM   #22
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What about the old-school approach?

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Old 07-05-11, 11:10 AM   #23
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The Husky I used on the jobsite was stolen, so against my better judgement, I listened to the salesman and switched to a Stihl. Man, what an incredibly frustrating saw. I had it tuned by every shop in town and it would run for a little while, then quit and wouldn't start for a long time...then it would again.
Not sure about Husky but I know for a fact that Stihl saws do not work well with normal gasoline that is older than a few weeks. Modern gasolines use a lot of ethanol which absorbs moisture from the air very rapidly. The saw engines are tuned to use pure gasoline and don't do well with -any- amount of moisture in the gas. Recommendation: Find a station that sells pure gasoline (no ethanol) and use that in your saw. Here's a website that lists some options: http://pure-gas.org/

The info about the gas comes from my local Stihl dealer who is a "master wrench" and Elite dealer (i.e. Stihl's highest technical certifications).
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Old 07-05-11, 02:31 PM   #24
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That tree looks like it is worth a small fortune as lumber.

Get proposals from lumber salespeople. You'll probably have the tree neatly removed for you, and end up with a few thousand bucks in the bank.
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Old 07-05-11, 04:02 PM   #25
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^Nah. I may just kill it with kindness. And chocolate. Soon it will be obese and require insulin.
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